On November 19/December 2 the holy Orthodox Church commemorates the recently-glorified God-bearing elder of our times, St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyiva, who reposed on this day in 1991. He was known as a humble ascetic with the gift of foresight who always served the Divine Liturgy with compunction. In his memory we offer below his final letter, as well as an audio recording of his heartfelt serving of the Divine Liturgy.
While at the Holy Skete of Kavsokalyvia on Mt. Athos, the Elder Porphyrios had given orders for his grave to be dug. Through a spiritual child of his, he dictated a farewell letter of advice and forgiveness to all his spiritual children.
Here is the letter as it was sent to the site Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries from the Holy Convent of the Transfiguration of the Savior. It was found amongst the monk's garments that were laid out for his burial on the day of his departure. This letter is a profound example of the humility of the saints who have acquired the likeness of God through their humble ascetic offerings.
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My dear spiritual Children,
Now that I am still in charge of my faculties, I want to give you some advice.
Ever since I was a child, I was always in sin. When my mother sent me to watch the animals on the mountain, (my father had gone to America to work on the Panama Canal for us his children, because we were poor), there, where I shepherded the animals, I slowly read, word by word, the life of St. John the Hut-dweller and I loved St. John very much. I said a lot of prayers, like the young child that I was, twelve or fifteen years old, I don't remember too well. I wanted to follow his example. So, with a lot of difficulty, I secretly left my parents and came to Kavsokalyvia on the Holy Mountain. I became obedient to two elders, the true brothers, Panteleimon and loannikios.
They happened to be very devout and full of virtue, I loved them very much and because of that, with their blessing, I gave them absolute obedience. That helped me a lot. I also felt great love for God and got along very well. However, because of my sins, God allowed me to become ill, and my elders told me to go to my parents in my village of St. John, Evia. Although I had sinned a lot from when I was a small child, when I returned to the world I continued to commit sins which, today are very many. The world, however, thought highly of me, and everyone shouts that I'm a saint.
I however, feel that I am the most sinful person in the world. Of course, whatever I remembered I confessed, and I know God has forgiven me. But now I have the feeling that my spiritual sins are very many and I ask all those who have known me to pray for me, because, for as long as I lived, I humbly prayed for you, too. Now that I'm leaving for heaven, I have the feeling that God will say to me, "What are you doing here?" I have only one thing to say to him, "I am not worthy of here, Lord, but whatever your love wills, it'll do for me." From then on, I don't know what will happen. I however, wish for God's love to act.
I always pray that my spiritual children will love God, Who is everything, so that He will make us worthy to enter His earthly uncreated Church. We must begin from here. I always made the effort to pray, to read the hymns of the Church, the Holy Scriptures and the Lives of the Saints. May you do the same. I tried, by the grace of God, to approach God and may you also do the same.
I beg all of you to forgive me for whatever I did to upset you.
Kavsokalyvia, June 4/17 1991
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This audio clip is from the Divine Liturgy on May 27, 1977 in the Monastery of Saint Nicholas Kalissia, Penteli. Saint Porphyrios was 71 years old and the woman chanting was his sister.